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The History of The Greatest Train Race

In 1987 the Rotary Club of Coalfields launched the first relay event against a steam train along the private Amcoal railway line between Wolvekrans and Witbank (eMalahleni). This event took place annually for the next 5 years. In 1992 the race route was relocated to run along the railway line and road between Middelburg and Witbank incorporating two of Mpumalanga's larger cities in the event. This led to the involvement of the four local Rotary Clubs and subsequently the Rotary Greatest Train Race was born.

The Rotary Greatest Train Race has since grown into one of South Africa’s largest community investment projects. The race comprises a relay and individual race along the route between eMalahleni (Witbank) and Middelburg. Individuals and relay teams consisting of employees of corporations, private companies, government departments, scholars, technikons or universities students, members’ of sports clubs, social clubs and private individuals annually participate in this community driven charity event. The race is open to all members of the public interested in contributing to the wellbeing of their community and who are fit for the challenge. The event, which is renowned for its festive atmosphere and camaraderie, is popular with individual runners, teams and walkers. Walking and running teams consist of 5 runners per team.

In addition, disadvantaged/disabled individuals from the community are entertained and spoiled at the finish venue.

The purpose of the event is first and foremost a nation building exercise in which all members of the community are able to participate in raising funds that can be reinvested into local community projects. These projects are annually identified and closely monitored and managed by the Rotary Clubs of Middelburg Cycad, Middelburg and Witbank. The 2054 event attracted close to 15 000 runners and walkers, with a total of more than 30 000 people joining hands and opening their hearts on race day for the less fortunate in their communities. R1 million was generated for local community based beneficiaries.

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Latest News

Find the GTR 2016 Race Results of the 15m and 32km below

Download 15km Results

Click here to see the 32km Results

The Greatest Train Race gives thanx to a new sponsor

Euenever Trading

GTR Launches First Float Building Competition

2016 is a big year for the GTR, it is the 30th birthday celebrations & we have added a few changes to the event. We are happy to announce one more brand new addition to the event...

For the first time in its 30 year history, a float building challenge will be introduced this year.

Companies and schools in Middelburg and eMalahleni are being challenged to enter their train float to win great prizes!

The rules are quite simple: the float must look like any train – steam or electric, modern or old; you have to incorporate the name/logo of your company/school/tertiary institution and Rotary in the design; it must be built on a roadworthy powered vehicle e.g. bakkie and/or trailer, but no bigger than a 4 Tonne truck/tractor; it should only have a driver and one passenger.

Chris Roos, GTR committee member, is already hard at work to build the Train Race flagship float. Closing date for float entries as per the race entries is the 1st of August 2016.

A float parade will take to the streets during the week leading up to the race. The public will vote for their winning float on a special sms line and the winner will be announced on race day.

Email the race office for your entry form at

Just a reminder of the other changes to the 2016 GTR:
The long distance runners will start at 6am at the Train Station in Witbank, running an official 32km race on the R555.
The 15km race will start from the Hillside Station turn off near La Rochelle at 6am on the R555.
Don’t forget to book your bus ticket to get to the starting point!
The finish venue will relocate to Kees Taljaard Stadium in Middelburg
The relay race will start at 7am starting and ending at the Kees Taljaard Stadium with one central change over point for all 5 team members.
Participants will run in a 4.9km circle route.
There will also be the ever popular 4.9km fun run for young and old starting and ending at Kees Taljaard Stadium at 7:15am.

Due to the change in the route we have also added another new element to our central change over point. We are offering companies the opportunity to set up a gazebo next to the change over point while participants wait for their turn. The cost of this is R400 per 5m x 5m gazebo.

2016 also brings a new and Improved Food Court serving from Prego steak, Pancakes, Indian food, King Pies, Wors rolls to Hamburgers, to name but a few whilst you are listening to live music on stage.

Entry forms are available on the train race website, at the Highveld Mall Information Kiosk & the Middelburg Info Centre or contact the race office on 013 243 2253 or email

Hope to see you there!

The GTR Team

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The Greatest Train Race is turning 30 years old!

2016 will mark the 30th birthday of the Greatest Train Race.

The organisers of the GTR are already busy with preparations for this years event taking place on the 20th of August.

The GTR started from humble beginnings in 1987 with 400 participants and grew continually over the past 29 years to a maximum capacity of 20 000

For the 30th year of the GTR we are changing things up a bit, said newly elected GTR Chairman Chantal Bekker.

Chantal, lives in Middelburg and is a wife and a mother of two daughters. She works as an external sales consultant for Rand-air. Chantal also has a qualification as an HR Consultant in ETDP. She was the first crowned Mrs. Middelburg in 2010 and during this time she started with her work in the community and never stopped.

Chantal joined the Cycad Rotary Club 3 years ago.

It is very important for me to see people grow and develop. I truly believe to add value to someone’s life. It’s not what you do or say, but HOW YOU MAKE PEOPLE FEEL that matters. My motto in life = 1 Kor 13: “Love keeps no record of the wrong”, Chantal said.

2015 brought with it a choice between getting the Train or using the money for the underprivileged community. The decision was not easy, but the right choice had to be made. This also then changed the view for the 2016 GTR, we are very excited about the new Greatest Train Race 2016, Bekker said.

To get involved in the Greatest Train Race 2016, be it through sponsorships or entering teams, visit our website, join our Facebook page and read the Witbank News/Middelburg Observer to stay updated with the latest information.’

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More winners for Greatest Train Race

Kutting took the honors for the best water point in the 2015 Greatest Train Race event. Alida Niehaus (President of Middelburg Rotary Club) hands over the winning floating trophy to Marlie Nel from Kutting.

The School’s competition winner was also announced on Wednesday morning. Maloma Primary School from eMalahleni entered the most teams. They won themselves a brand new office Computer valued at R8000 sponsored by the Greatest Train Race, which was handed over by committee members Rtn John Moshidi (back left) and Elsabé Dawson.

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Greatest Train Race Gives Thanx

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Pictured here is (front) Mr Lawrence Maroos (GC Construction and Mr Vusi Zwane (Glencore), (back row) DG Annie Steijn (Rotary District 9400) and Mr Max Köhler (GTR Chairman) Pictured here is (front) Mr Lawrence Maroos (GC Construction and Mr Vusi Zwane (Glencore), (back row) DG Annie Steijn (Rotary District 9400) and Mr Max Köhler (GTR Chairman)

The Greatest Train Race 2015 is now official!

Wednesday the 20th of May marked the official launch of The Greatest Train Race 2015.

Not even sudden load shedding could dampen the spirits on the evening! The Middelburg Chamber Auditorium was filled with business men, -women and distinguished guests, Mayor of Steve Tshwete Local Municipality, Mike Masina and the Rotary District 9400 Governor Annie Steijn who all came together celebrating the launch of the Train Race with Rotarians.

The main sponsors, Lawrence Maroos from GC construction and Vusi Zwane from Glencore, signed the sponsorship agreement together with the Chairmen of the Train Race Committee, Max Köhler.

Köhler explained that although more South Africans have access to social welfare services, electricity and water, 65% are still very poor with 30% being jobless. This is the reason why it is so heart warming to be associated with the Train Race, the sponsors and volunteers being involved and making a difference, Köhler said.

The mayor of Middelburg, Mr. Mike Masina said that the well planned Greatest Train Race has been a part of the Middelburg community for a long time and will remain a part of the community for many years to come with the full support of the Municipality.

There are still a number of opportunities for companies and individuals to become sponsors or volunteers at this great fun event.

The Greatest Train Race will take place on the 22nd of August 2015. It starts at the Witbank Train Station and finishes at the Middelburg Municipality. Entries have already opened. You can choose to take part in the 4.9km, 15km or 28Km individual events or the ever popular relay race comprising of 5 members per team over a 28km distance. Entries can be submitted online at or by hand at the Middelburg Information Centre in Walter Sisulu street and the Highveld Mall Info Kiosk in eMalahleni. The race office can be contacted on 086 11 TRAIN (87246) or

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Greatest Train Race Schools Competition Winning School Announced!

The Greatest Train Race committee launched a challenge to all schools to enter as many teams as possible in the popular event held 2 weekends ago.

It didn't matter how big or small the school was, the winning school was determined by the school size versus entries principle, so everyone had an equal chance!

The winning school won 2 laptops sponsored by Firmlinx - Fast Reliable IT, a technology and communication company with branches in Witbank and Middelburg.

"Our vision is to create the ultimate value-added IT experience to our clients and ensure we are a valuable resource to our clients. We want to see our clients benefiting from their IT systems, systems that, with our input have become reliable, dependable and useful. We want to remove the frustration from owning and running IT systems by working closely with our customers to provide simple affordable solutions to their exact needs", said Rudi Grundlingh owner of Firmlinx.

The lucky winning school of this great prize is HTS Middelburg. The school will be launching their own running club Rooies soon and young and old will be welcome to join the club.

"The response from the schools were amazing and it was a very close call with the entries, but as we all know there can only be one winner and we would like to thank each and every school that entered teams into the race, not only did they assist with raising funds for the less fortunate but they also showed great team spirit", said Max Kohler, Train Race Chairperson.

The Train Race committee would like to thank all the schools that entered teams and Firmlinx for the Computer sponsorship.

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15 000 runners take on the train for the 28th year!

On the 23rd of August 2014, The Rotary Greatest Train Race hosted the 28th year of the event and once again it proved to be one of the most enjoyable and well organised community projects.

The Greatest Train Race attracted 15 000 runners, some competing in a 5 man team relay, some walking 15km and the brave, taking on the 28km as individual runners.

For a second year in a row the Suzuki Team took first prize in the relay section, with a time of 1:25:42, the winning High school team was HTS Middelburg with a time of 1:42:41 and the winning primary school was Dennesig with a time of 1:59:46.

Johnson Mbwane from the Eskom Running club took first place in the Individual 28Km running event with a time of 1:44 while the first lady was Rita van Wyk from the Boksburg running club with a time of 2:25.

In the 15Km walking Edward Motsaathaba from NBC won with a time of 1:45:25 and Ria Potgieter walked away with the gold for the ladies.

"For 28 years the Greatest Train Race have been part of uplifting the local community, many charities have benefitted and will still benefit for many years to come from the money raised through this annual event. Through this event and the Rotary Clubs, children receive not only books, tables & chairs from all over the world for their schools, but also basic necessities", said Max Kohler, Chairman of the Greatest Train Race.

"Because of the support from our Sponsors, Anglo American, GC Construction and Glencore, secondary sponsoring companies such as Coca-Cola Shanduka Beverages, Transnet, Bambanani Occupational Health, TRAC, RiseFM and Oasis as well as water point hosts, logistics volunteers and the participants in the race, we are able to make the race the success that it is and raise the money for this amazing community projects", said Kohler.

All participants can now view and purchase their photos of the race on and the photos will be available on the website by Thursday the 4th of September. For more detail, mail

The Train Race has grown from strength to strength and will continue to grow in years to come, watch this space!

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Entries are open 1 May 2016 - 1 August 2016

Race date:

Entry fees:

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Team Race:
R400 per team (5 x adults) – Runners and Walkers
R200.00 per team (5 x scholars) – Runners and Walkers
Individual Race:
15km: R85.00 pp
32km: R130 pp
Fun Run:
4.9km: R40.00 pp (children u/12), R80 pp (Adults)
Bus Tickets:
R50.00 (return trip to eMalahleni incl. if required)
Timing Chips:
( All participants entering the 32km event will receive timing chips in their registration packs which should be worn on your shoes. Please return your chip at the finish on race day.)

Temporary licences:

Race capped at:

Closing date for entries:

R25.00 per licence (unlicensed individual entrants only)

20 000 participants

1 August 2016 or until the race cap has been reached (whichever comes first)

Download Race Information
Download Entry Form Download Float Building Entry Form

Collect from:

Middelburg Info Centre Mall
Walter Sisulu Str
Info Kiosk, Highveld Mall
Mandela Drive
Middelburg Marathon Club
Lillian Ngoyi Street
Opposite Fire Station

Submit to:

Fax:   086 519 6997

Hand deliver to:

• Middelburg Information Centre, Walter Sisulu Str, Middelburg
• Info Kiosk, Highveld Mall, Mandela Drive, eMalahleni

Long distance Individuals

Total distance: 32kms
Start Time: 06:00 AM
Start venue: Witbank Station, eMalahleni
Finish venue: Kees Taljaard Stadium, Lillian Ngoyi Street

Long Distance Individuals

Total distance: 15kms
Start Time: 06:00 AM
Start venue: Hillside Station Turn off (near La Rochelle Nursery)
Finish venue: Kees Taljaard Stadium, Lillian Ngoyi Street Walter Sisulu Street Middelburg

Relay teams and Fun Run

Relay total distance: 25kms
Fun Run Total distance: 4.9kms
Start Time: Relay 07:00
Fun Run 07:15
Start and finish Venue: Kees Taljaard Stadium, Lillian Ngoyi Street, Middelburg


No Baton = No Medals

Prize Giving

Prize giving will take place at the Kees Taljaard Stadium between 10:30 and 11:30 on race day.

Bus Transport

Bus transport will be available at R50 per ticket to all participants requiring transport to 15 km and 32 km start points.

Busses will depart to 15 km and 32 km start points and are available from 4:00 am - 5:15 am ONLY.

The last bus will depart at 5:15 am from Kees Taljaard Stadium (Lilian Ngoyi Str)

Bus transport also available from Witbank Station to 15 km start point.


No bus transport will be provided to relay participants. Please make your way to Kees Taljaard Stadium in Lilian Ngoyi Street, Middelburg.

Secure (paid) parking at Steelcrest High for all participants.
Busses will return the athletes to eMalahleni from 12:30 - keep your ticket!!!

Road Closure

The R555 (old road) from Witbank to Middelburg will be closed to traffic from 05:00 – 13:00 on the morning of Saturday 20 August 2016.



Participation in the Rotary Greatest Train Race is done voluntarily and entirely at the risk of each and every participant. The Rotary Greatest Train Race, the Rotary Clubs of Middelburg, Middelburg Cycad and Witbank, the Middelburg Marathon Club, the Organisers of the event, the Sponsors, Volunteer Groups/Individuals, medical and/or emergency personnel will not be responsible and/or liable for any loss or damage, however caused from participation in the Rotary Greatest Train Race, including pre-race and post race activities.

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A vast number of community projects have benefited from the race during the past 28 years. The Rotary Greatest Train Race remains a community investment project driven by the community for the community.

The funds generated from the 2015 Rotary Greatest Train Race have be allocated to the following possible beneficiaries:

•    Middelburg Care Village
•    Collapsible Wheelchair Project
•    SA Reserve Police Services (Middelburg and eMalahleni)
•    Underprivileged Childrens weekend
•    SWEMB Aged respite week
•    Annual Blanket Project
•    Rotary Clubs of Middelburg, Middelburg Cycad and Witbank to assist with smaller individual projects

The race committee still supports the ‘Run for a purpose initiative’ whereby race entrants can voluntarily sponsor any of 10 organisations from R50,00.

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Don't miss out on the 'GREATEST' social and corporate hospitality event of 2015.

Main Sponsors

Our Other Sponsors

Notably one of the largest charity events of its kind in the country, the Rotary Greatest Train Race annually sets the stage for unlimited sponsorship opportunities and community investment. There are number of varied sponsorship opportunities still available for small to large businesses as well as private individuals and organisations.

The Race Committee would like to appeal to companies in the surrounding communities to seriously consider becoming partners in this worthwhile community venture. For sponsorship information or general enquiries contact 086 11 TRAIN (87246) [OPTION 1] or e-mail:

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How to Reach Us?

  • Rotary Greatest Train Race Administration Office

    Tel:   08611 TRAIN (87246)
    Fax:   013 243 1923 / 086 519 6997
    Administrator:   Elsabe Dawson / Noreen Jordaan
    Race Convenor:   Chantal Bekker

    Entry Information:   Elsabe Dawson / Noreen Jordaan

    Media & Marketing:   Monica Joao
    Cell:   083 633 3459
    Twitter:   @trainrace